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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  July 2, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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>> charlie: welcome to our prprogram. tonight we begin with the story of russian spies. tabloids are havin a field day because some of them are women spies. we get the story and the assessment from scott shane of "the new york times," charles cup chance of the council on foreign relations and peter earnest a former c.i.a. officer. >> the puzzle of course, and you have to realize this operation was launched more than a decade ago, perhaps two decades ago, in a different era. you know, it's probably fair to say that you could sit at a computer in moscow today if your english was floontd, you could check -- fluent, you could check out obama, the policy in roorn n
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and the saudi administration. that's easily available to anybody with computer these days. >> rather than both sides making a big brew ha ha, one side with diplomate spies and one side reciprocating, we're hearing them both say listen, this is a bad thing, the russians have admitted that most of them were russian citizens. but both sides are saying hey, let's not let things get out of cell. our relationship is getting better. >> i have to believe that the highest circles of the russian government were aware of this network and were willing to pay for it and support it for this extended period of time. it's hard for me to believe that they would do that without some sort of production, some sort of take. >> charlie: we continue with the story of pandora, the hugely successful i the founder, tim westergren. >> i think as people get older, and by that i mean into their
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20's, get a job have a family, time gets a little bit tight, i think they really lose their connection to music. they don't lose their love of it but it's harder to find new music, it's hard to stay fresh and engaged. and the cd collection gets stale and music becomes wallpaper. and i think that one of the reasons pandora's grown so fast is that through pandora, people are rediscovering a passion for their learning about new bands. they're back in the game for them this time. i think that excitement. it's a profound experience for folks. >> charlie: we conclude with matt trynauer talking about a survey done among architects choosing the five best buildings built since 1980. guess what was number one. the guggenheim museum designed by frank gerry. >> i'm not sure how much the public awe doors minimalism. i think they adore garyism because it's fun, it excites the
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eye, it's pleasing, which were the things that the bozarks possessed. post modernism was trying to reappear capture the magic of the bozark city and frank figured out a way to do it that would excite their imagination and capture their eye. >> charlie: the success of pandora's music and look at the five best buildings built since 1980 when we continue captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
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>> charlie: we begin tonight with espionage early this year after a seven year f.b.i. investigation federal prosecutors accused 11 people of nuclear weapons, u.s. policies towards iran, politics and other topics. the case is a reminder while they may be friendly country there are no friendly intelligence agencies. the suspected agent operating under deep cover some of them appeared in new york, boston and virginia. they include four couples, among them is a real estate agent, business cuttant, planner and reporter. the 11 suspect disappeared in the island of sk cyprus where he was arrested and released. the arrests came just days after russian president medvedev met with president obama on an ongoing effort to reset
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russia-u.s. relations. the russian foreign ministry has set the effect will not negatively effect bilateral relations. president obama sought to lay down the impact of the case. joining me from washington, scott shane from "the new york times." he's been reporting on the story. charles cup chance on the council of foreign relations at georgetown university and peter earnest a former c.i.a. officer director of the international spy museum in washington. i am pleased to have all of them on this program. let me begin with you scott. tell me what you make of this story. >> well, it was, came as a real shock that there was a russian spy ring this large operating for this long in the country, and i guess that was the first surprise. the second surprise was they were not charged with espionage because more than a decade they had not managed to acquire a single piece of classified information and send it about aing to moscow. so they were charged instead
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with lesser crimes, money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents. >> so why they were arrested at this time? >> a number reasons that law enforcement officials will fought reveal. one of them is one of the long term sort of sleeper agents that russia had planted in this country, a guy who used the word the name richard murphy and who lived with the woman who he said was his wife, cynthia murphy in new jersey had plans to fly out of the country last sunday night. and they, he had left and come back in the past but this time but this time he plead he was leaving for good heading back to rush ought you couldn't arrest one of them without arresting all of them because you would tip the rest of them off. so they decided with some
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reluckants since it was russian president medvedev had completed by all accounts a fairly positive visit, president obama that went ahead and began to roll up this ring on sunday. >> charlie: what do you make of the russian response to all this. >> in some ways even though this is a very bizarre episode, what's striking about it is the degree to which both the russians and the american at the governmental level are playing it down. the russians initially came out in a very sort of angry way and said what are you talking about, you're trying to certificatal c- is the cuttle the reset after he was having cheese burgers with obama. since then the russians have calmed down a bit. i think it's quite striking that rather than both sides making a big brouhaha one side with some spies and one side reciprocating, we're seeing them both say slissen, this is a bad
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thing. the russians have even admitted that most of them were russian citizens. but both sides are saying hey, lets not let things get out of control, our relationship is getting better. let's try to focus on the big ticket items. first, the strategic issues like the start it treaty and now after the recent valid of medvedev trying -- visit of medvedev trying them to close on economic issues. >> charlie: scott you said this reads like an old fashion cold war thriller. what part of it reads like an old fashion cold war thriller? >> well, i think the thing that's really striking, particularly when you realize that they apparently weren't sending particularly sensitive information back to russia. the trade craft that they were using to communicate with one another and to connect with several russian government officials presumably intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover, mostly out of the russian office of the
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u.n., is really striking. in other words they had all the kind of apparatus of spying, the old fashion kind of thing. at one point they buried a cashe of money in upstate new york for an extended period marked by a half buried beer bottle. they did brush by exchanges in train stations where they would pass each other and in one case the f.b.i. describes they squand identical orange bags. of course under the surveillance of the f.b.i. it turns out. they would have meetings where, you know, if the man was holding the "time" magazine in his left hand, it was okay to approach him. if it was in his right hand, it was a sign of danger. you know, all that stuff that's familiar from the good old days.
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but with a number of more cyberage methods being added to the mix. one is stnoography which is imbedding hidden messages in images where they were apparently with a long password you could decrypt a message that was hidden in an ordinary looking image on the internet. and they also configured some laptops so that somebody could just walk by or drive by within range of another laptop, and the two laptops would connect, form an encrypted private network and exchange information. so very much the kind of thing that used to be done and was done in this case with burst transmissions of radio data. but this time it was, you know, wire lotion network involving two laptops.
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so it was all, all kinds of school stuff so to speak from the spy repertoire. the thing that's puzzling is what was this information that was being exchanged with such precautions and such high tech equipment. >> i couldn't agree with scott more. of course we have the advantage of seeing it in hindsight so it's all in a compressed period. but that kind of trade craft or impersonal communications is still used by spies around the world. we certainly, we perfected it in moscow. we could actually conduct that kind of trade craft under surveillance. what we're dealing with here is the mystery is we don't know how the fbi got on to these folks. was there a bungle on somebody's part and they tripped on to it. and the problem is because it
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was a network, one link led to the other. and the other thing, of course, is that we don't know how they got on to it. and also, once the f.b.i. got on to it, that's the best counter intelligence service in the world. so these people were then performing what were pretty professional actions but under the very very heavy surveillance virtually blanket surveillance of the f.b.i. it's very transparent to us in retrospect but at the time it was sym me designed to -- simply designed to keep casual observers from noting that the individuals were in touch with a russian from the united nations mission. >> charlie: charles i was stunned to read that one of their requests from russian intelligence was to find out president obama's intentions. there's nothing i read about these people that they would know any more about russian intention, president obama's
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intentions that you could find in foreign affairs magazine or any other conversation with leading american officials on this program and elsewhere. >> i think it just shows you the degree to which institutions die hard and particularly institutions in russia where you have a lot i think of the bureaucracy that hasn't really advanced into 2010. that is still living in a world in which they see the united states. not as an enemy, i think that would be too strong, but with suspicion, with a distinct lack of trust. i think one of the things that we all need to worry about in this case is to what degree is this spy scandal going to create domestic alway obstacles to whae russian government in the highest level and the american government in the highest level is trying to do. are there for example going to be skeptical senators on capitol hill who are going to stay this
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stark treaty we can't really do with russia spying on us. are you going to see the same thing in the duma. i think medvedev and obama have their work cut out for him. that's why i think both sides are trying to play this down to make sure that the domestic implications of this don't actually become much greater and much more costly than the intelligence implications, which both of our colleagues were just saying come to small potatoes. i do think it's this question of a hangover that there are remains within the bureaucracy within the russian psyche or mentality if you will the sense what you do is you get these people over there, they blend in and lo and behold they will yield information that we couldn't otherwise get. but that's that the world that we live in now. we're all wired, we're all globized so it's simply this isn't a game that i think the russians should be playing or need to be make at this point. >> i think way have to be careful about limiting ourself
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to thinking that their sole function was to collect intelligence. illegals traditionally have been people who got extensive training, were really deep undercover, they were virtually sleeper agents and they were activated for some special mission, let's say in an emergency. however, these people were network. but we shouldn't under estimate this ability to simply imbed themselves in american society and in effect be talent scouts. this is called an intelligence spotting. that is they were moving around, they were meeting people, perhaps staffers on the hill and so forth and so on. they could easily be used for spotting people who look like they might be vulnerable or open to a fron prudent approach by a intelligence officer perhaps one from the mission who couldn't meet them otherwise. that would be an extremely valuable function for them to
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perform. >> charlie: do they sound like competent professionals to you, peter? >> well you know, certainly if we look back, they were engaging in the trade craft as they've been instructed. the problem for them was they were under the closest scrutiny of an extremely effective counter intelligence service which for one reason or another had them right under its microscope from the beginning. and that's what really i think is interesting, number one, that they function for so long. when you find an illegal, you do exactly what the f.b.i. did, watch them for a long period of time, see what their true function is, who else they contact. i have to believe that the highest circles of the russian government were aware of this network and were willing to pay for it and support it for this extended period of time. it's hard for me to believe that they would do that without some sort of production, some sort of take. >> charlie: what question is
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most unanswered in your mind as a reporter on the story? >> i suppose the greatest, some of the unanswered questions would be you know, basically what was the purpose of this entire operation. what was the thinking in moscow center in the russian intelligence headquarters. when they were asking, for example, you know send us information on the debate over afghanistan in the u.s. government. you know, these are sophisticated people running the spell just service -- intelligence service. they know about the internet. you kind of have to assume that maybe they were keeping a string on these guys, keeping them busy, keeping the communication channels open with what they understood to be not terribly valuable information. i think the other question i would love to ask these folks is, you know, historically with illegals, they sometimes go
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native and you know, we heard an interesting story this week that when the iron curtain came down after the velvet revolution, the new czech government came to the u.s. and revealed that they had a number of illegals in place in the united states. and those illegals all said when approached, you know what, we like it here and we'd love to stay. and they settled in the u.s. so you know, part of this, part of what i would love to ask these folks is, you know, is there loyalty still to russia or what are their feelings. if they're given a choice of going back to russia or staying inmont claire and raising their kids, if that turns out to be a choice after they serve their time, will they in fact state here. in fact, when you read the f.b.i.'s charging papers, there's this fascinating dispute
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between moscow center and the couple that call themselves the murphy's over who was going to own technically speaking the house that they were purchasing inmontclaire new jersey, a nice suburb. you kind of had the feeling that perhaps some of these folks felt like they were using the russian intelligence service at least as much as the russian intelligence service was using them. >> scott shane -- new book called how enemies become friends the sources of a stable peace. u.s. and rush you. back in a moment. stay with us. >> charlie: tim westergren is hear he's the founder of pandora radio. they allow listeners to create radio stations based on their
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own musical preference. you type in a song or an artist and the website will play more songs that share the same musical dna. paneled raw radio has experienced spectacular growth since launching in 2005. the company now has 54 million registered users and the pandora ap is one of the more popular ones on smart phones. it named westergren the most 100 interesting people for the year 2010. i am pleased to have him here at this table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you. >> charlie: is that about right what i said. >> it was. >> charlie: your background before you started all this. >> music. >> charlie: jazz and -- >> jazz and rock and some classical training. i wear a few different hats. >> charlie: thinking you would do what with your life. >> i've spent 15 years trying to figure that out. i graduated from college knowing i wanted to do music but not sure how i could make a living at it. i me andered around for a while. >> charlie: the degree in
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college was what, music. >> political science. >> charlie: political science and then loving music. >> yes. >> charlie: ending up as the chief strategy officer for an internet company. >> i didn't know that would happen at all. >> charlie: the music genome what was that about. >> the idea was hashed around a composer where my job was to figure out what a director wanted. we would sit down together and play music for each other and have a conversation. i would try to glean from the feedback they gave me what they wanted. what i was doing was translating their need back into musical information. so i was developing kind of an informal case profiling of sorts because i essentially could translate their preferences into musical attributes so i could write something new. i had the idea one day to codify that and using the technology of the web to create some kind of music discovery engine. >> charlie: how old were you when you did that? >> early 30's. about 10 years ago.
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>> charlie: so you've decided to do that. the and then what happened? >> so it was 1999, so it was apex of the first big.com bubble. i was living in the bay area, san francisco and there was a lot of entrepreneurial energy all around and i shared the idea with a fend of man, john craft and he said hey let's go raise some money and start a company. it was kind of subtle. in a matter of weeks we had a business plan and went out raising money. >> charlie: then in 2001 you had the implosion. >> yes. so it was an interesting time to launch a company. we raised our first round ofn't financen'ting in -- of fanning in march of 2000. we entered the quagmire of 2000, 2003. >> charlie: more venture capital money and no more income. >> the door slammed shut. we had to kind of hang on, survive. >> charlie: how did you do that. >> credit card were a part of it. an incredible group of employees who worked without getting paid
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for over two years. >> charlie: they reached into their own savings in order to keep the company alive. >> yes. i think people did different things to make it through that. not everybody worked full time, but folks used credit cards, borrowed money and some had spouses or significant others that supported them. but it was a long, long -- >> charlie: at that time, what did pandora do. >> we started off thinking we'd build this technology and license it to other companies. so it was a business to business provider. so we went to aol and yahoo and best buy and so on. now a consumer facing company ourself thinking we could kind of license it out and chase that for about four years. >> and then found the right model. >> yes. in 2004 we raised a large round of financing. i hired a guy named joe kennedy to be our c.e.o. and he -- >> charlie: not the joe
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kennedy from massachusetts. >> no. he's an east coast kennedy but ... under his direction the company went through a major rethinking. and we realized this thing we had built, this new genome project was perfectly suited to an opportunity on the radio side. yeah so we reconceived the company and launched a radio. >> charlie: you had a website. if you went to your website you could get access to? >> to music, streaming music. >> charlie: how did you determine what music would be streamed? >> so that's where the music genome comes in. so when you type a song into pandora, what we actually do is look up that song musical dna. >> charlie: i can type in one song and you can tell me about my musical tails. >> that's all you need. we have analyzed that song along 400 a booths. >> charlie: here's my question. suppose i type in song you would know kind of blue from miles davis are, you would type me a certain way. >> uh-huh. >> charlie: suppose my next song was nebraska from brutes
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springsteen. >> so you're creating a second station. the way you do it on paneled raw, you could do it on a hundred different stages or streams. >> charlie: station in this case means. >> it's a sequence of songs. radio's not the right word but it's a stream of music based on this input that you started with. >> charlie: you began to get advertisers and you began to get subscribers. >> right. so we launched it briefly at the subscription only service but quickly migrated to a free offering and subscription offering. and it's primarily a free advertising. >> charlie: if it's free why would i want a subscription. >> you get rid of advertising. >> charlie: noticing pure thing subscribe. >> exactly. and today? >> well the vast majority of our listeners are free users and a small percentage subscribe. >> charlie: so now everybody is okay with advertising. >> yes, it seems. >> charlie: do you believe the advertising model is going to prevail. >> yes. i think advertising supported
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free is certainly going to be the dominant paradigm for the web. i think there are a small number of companies that have the brand and the content to command subscription. you can count them on a couple hands. >hands. >> charlie: what do they offer? what distinguishes them that they can count on subscriptions? >> well, i think it really comes down to -- >> charlie: premium information or experience. >> yes. it's high quality original content. cable is an example of that. and i think in the news world some news publications have such consistent high quality information that they can command a subscription. but i think for the most part you need to find a way to support advertising. >> charlie: or combination. is it possible to do some combination? >> sure. i think subscription for some companies will be a decent slice of the pie but it won't be the primary source of revenue, in
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our case. >> charlie: people who advertise on pandora are looking to reach what kind of od audien. >> what's interesting about the web is you're talking to individuals. so if you're a car company or a beverage company you come to paneled raw and say i'd like -- pandora and say i would like to put this advertisement in front of men in there 30's listening to rock music and paneled raw will be able to -- pandora will be able to target your advertising. that's sort of a long term promise of this kind of a platform. >> charlie: what has the iphonor whatever might be done in the future done for pandora. >> it's impossible to state. the iphone has completely changed. >> charlie: let me under line this. >> the iphone launched in the summer of 08. it did two things. dramatically increased our growth rate, almost doubled it over night. that was the first thing. but i think more importantly
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perhaps, it changed the way consumers perceived pandora from being a computer-based listening experience. most people came to panele panda laptop principally at work and through mobile. >> charlie: they came with headphones. >> headphones. when the iphone came out you could take pandora with you. you could go to the gym and be on the treadmill listening to your personalized raid your or buy an adapter and put it in your car. >> charlie: you could get it right here. >> it could stream and curate it in real time so you can tailor your stations. we went from being at work computer-based listening to kind of anywhere listening. >> charlie: because of the iphone. >> because of the iphone. that of course triggered a whole domino effect to smart phones. >> charlie: so applications were a godsend. >> yes. that company is an extraordinary company. and they have, in our world they
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have redefined our entire industry. >> charlie: iphone and applications. >> iphone and applications. >> charlie: what has the ipad done. >> that's a whole new interesting option for us because it's kind of a big screen which gives you the opportunity to put really interesting information adjacent to pandora so you can be listening and leaning in or reading as you would with an album cover when you were younger. now you've got that digital version of that. >> charlie: i have to understand something. you can only read what you're providing for them because today's imad will only give you one application at a time. >> that's right. the pandora ap will have your station, your songs going by and beneath it you'll have a biography of the band. >> charlie: might you provide other kind of information. news if i wanted to if i wanted to listen to music and read news at the same time. >> or you can listen to that band and find out that band is playing a concert nearby. you can provide information. >> charlie: tell me where you're geerg t going to be in 2.
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>> i think about that in two ways. the first is i would like pandora to be a global company. we're only providing the u.s. it's a real jungle right now. we're trying to crack that nut. we will be global and i hope we have a billion listeners around the world. we've brought people back into music enmass and changed -- >> charlie: you will bring people back to music. i didn't know people left music. >> i think as people get older, and by that i mean into their 20's, get a job, have a family time gets a little bit tight, i think they really lose their connection to music. they don't lose their love of it but it's harder to find new music and stay fresh and engaged. the t cd collection gets stale d music becomes wealthy. i think one of the reasons pand pandora's box gone so fast is they're learning about new
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bands. they're back in the game in a while and i think that excitement. it's a profound experience for folks and i'm hoping we can do that globally. that's the first piece. and the second piece is how it pertains to musicians because radio historically has been a very very narrow pipe. it's a single station with a single play list, small number of artists ever get access to it. when i was in a band we were always trying to get on the radio. through pandora we play the music of 90,000 artists. we have three quarters of a million songs. >> charlie: had he have more access to an audience any other way is that the idea. >> 90% of those songs play. >> charlie: it is argued too on the part of terrestrial radio it said to music we're your friend. >> yes. >> charlie: we help you. you make the same argument with artists when you're trying to license them? >> absolutely. there's ample evidence and pandora's one of the top sellers of music like itunes and amazon. you can purchase songs off
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pandora to amazon and itunes. >> charlie: you hear a song that you stream to my error because it fits my -- my ear because it fits my genre and i may buy it from you. >> we're hearing a lot of feedback from musicians who are saying i'm experiencing the impact of pandora. people are showing up to see me play and they tell me they've heard me on pandora. >> charlie: do you love music or do you love business. >> i love music. i love music. i would say that that's a good question. i think what makes this job so wonderful for me is that i'm getting to run a business that i think is having a big impact with music on people. to me i can't man something more fulfilling. no one said you can't do well and do good is he same time. >> i like to think pandora has a mobile mission, you know. and music is it. it's one of the sublime things of life. >> charlie: how often do you play. >> i've got a piano at home and
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i play casually at home. i don't play out anymore. i don't do that. >> charlie: who do you play for casually at home? >> myself and my wife. [laughter] >> charlie: and she's a willing listener. >> yes, she is. >> charlie: the relationship with artists, i mean i read where at some point when you had 50 million revenue, 30 million of that in paper rights. so what's the deal with these artists? >> well, it's too much from a business standpoint. and it doesn't make sense within the conduct of historical licensing. i love the fact it's going to musicians. and the lion's share of that money is called a performance fee which is paid to the actually performers. from the musician's stand point it's great news because they haven't been paid before in radio. when your song is played over broadcast the performers don't get paid. on the web or through internet radio like ours, they get
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remuneration. it's a big business challenge but again i think it's the right thing. >> charlie: they're sort of hovering over this notion that you think you can lower that fee. >> yes. let's say that's a big concern for us right now. and we hope that that can be put back in the -- approaching parity. there are different forms of radio that are broadcast satellite and web radio, they play erratically different levels and that needs to be corrected. >> charlie: when you consider going public, what's the timing of that? >> i'm happy i'm taking a salary right now. i'm enjoying what we're doing. i will say i think we have the potential to build a long standing and enduring company and that's our principal focus. >> charlie: are you thinking about going public. >> that's a tactic. going public is a tactic, it's a fund raising thank tig. if it made sense, we'd think about it but these no specific plan. >> charlie: you don't need
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to. you have access to capital. >> we had a profit been quarter at the end of last year so the company's really starting to, you know, work. >> charlie: overall expanding this to technology in general, so first, what do you think of the new iphone. >> for us it could be a pretty dramatic change because it allows pandora to play in the background. it's the first time on the iphone that you've been able to do e-mail, read the web and hear pandora at the same time. >> charlie: your early sense of it is that it's a human success for apple. >> yes. i think it's an amazing and extraordinary run. it's a beautiful looking product. it has a wonderful interface and it has an incredible ecosystem behind it so you've got hundreds of thousands of developers, tens of millions of people who own it and this has become part of their every day lives. so i think this will be yet another big success. >> charlie: do you believe that google and -- can have an
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effective challenge, gain and increasing market share. >> that's going to be a battle for sure. i think all the executives of these large companies publicly said mobile is a big strategic priority for us. >> charlie: it's everything, it's the game isn't it. >> we're adding more listeners every day on a mobile device than we are in any other area. it's the iphone. >> charlie: it really is. >> i was in the car about a year ago, i share a car with my wife so i don't drive very often and i put pandora, i had an iphone, i put it on the dashboard and started driving on the highway. 20 minutes later i had forgotten that i had done that and i thought gosh this radio station is really nailing it for me. oh that's right. >> charlie: it's pandora, is that right. >> yes, it was pandora. i had this moment of realization. gosh i'm so accustomed when i'm in a car to radio being broadcast radio, not radio that knows me and i can control in any way. i had a personal experience and that was a real e pacific me for
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me. when we -- epiphany for me. when we penetrate cars -- >> charlie: what is that. >> it's a voice activated version of pandora. you get in the car, through bluetooth it detects you have a phone in your pocket. essentially the controls for pan raw move into the head unit so you can control it from the dashboard and also command it and say launch pandora. play this station or skip that song and it responds to you. >> charlie: who else would be on a nor aw nora jones person. >> it's interesting because she straddled, she straddles, right. she sings jazz. you might here donna krawl. she got the little sort of jazz folk rock. you might hear joany mitchell. but a straight up pop song, you might find taylor swift or liz fair because she does travel as
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an artist musically. >> charlie: great to have you here. congram lations on pandora. we will see what you do. >> thank you very much. my pleasure to be here. >> charlie: frank gary the architect is perhaps the most recognized architect lloyd write. he became famous when he dean signed the guggenheim museum. now that building has been voted the most significant structure built in recent decades in a new survey by vanity fair magazine. the magazine asked over 50 respected architects, academics and critics to list the most important char since 1980. phillip talked about the building on this program in 1996. >> it's just a building you have to see, if you don't mind. will you do that? >> charlie: yes. whose building is it.
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>> ? frank gary. i've seen a lot of buildings, you know. i've seen ought shapes and juxtapositions, but this one, this one is a good building. i would have said up to last month you couldn't walk into a building down a slope it's like going into a basement of some kind. but he did it and i think he did it for one reason, if you get this the ceiling is 50 feet high. you go down about 20 feet. you don't feel like you're going down at all because it's so enormous and so full of contradictions and fun and games and excitement there's never a dull moment. >> charlie: other structures at the top of the list include the -- in texas, peter --'s
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thermal bats in swirsland, hsbc building in hong kong. joining me now is matt trynauer who wrote the accompanying essay to the survey in this month's issue. he is a correspondent for vanity fair and also a well-known document tree filmmaker and i'm pleased to have him here and talk about something that he cares deeply about which is architecture. >> thank you. >> charlie: how did this come about. >> well we had this idea we should do a survey of the people who really know -- and find out where we are. modernism died, post modernism came about, it died and now we're at a very divergent period. wayne lawson the executive editor of the magazine decided to do this and he sent out really a hundred letters to handpicked people and we were very surprised actually to see what are kind of consensus there was. that's really what started it. the greatest building since
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1980. >> charlie: how did you say we want you to decide on the greatest building. >> we left it up to them. these are really architects and academics, so they really had their judgment. >> charlie: what surprises you about these lists? >> well, there was one very clear winner. i mean, frank gary was anointed by far the designer of the greatest and most significant structure since 198 on which was the guggenheim museum. there was nothing really that came close. when i talked to geary about it, he was rather overwhelmed and impressed. these were his peers, pack democratic deans and journalists who cover it. and reaper really surprised how clear the response was. this was the building that designs our age architecturally. i think even in the popular realm. i think there is kind of a global consensus, but this is i think is clear proof as you
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probably could get. >> charlie: so they all agreed on frank geary. was it mainly because of bill bower or the career he's had including bill baum. >> it was bill. you've been there many times. you can't even really describe it. you need to experience it which i think is the hallmark of a great work of architecture. tom who was the curator of the guggenheim and an overpowering figure with a huge ego and he was the client for this building. had a great quote about geary which is frank was an interesting architect before bill baum. after that he became a transcentn't architect. that describes it very well. i grew up in los angeles where garyy was practicing and still does practice. my friends parents were commissioning these bizarre houses that people went to that were in the shape of things like fishes. it was very cute. might even have been kitch if he had gone a different direction but he didn't.
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bill bau i think is the transformational work of architecture. transformational building is extremely rare. i think it's a really something that happens once a century, maybe even twice a century and this is it. >> charlie: this is how you set up this piece. in february of 1998 at the able of 91, flowp johnson the god father of modern architecture the man we just saw 40 years earlier collaborated with the iconic building in manhattan traveled to spain to see the just calculated guggenheim museum by bill bau. he stood in massive titanium structure with frank geary as tv cameras captured him gesturing up and curving pillows that support the glass instilled ceiling and saying architecture is not about words, it's all about tears. breaking into heavy sobs, he added i get the same feeling in cause they had recall.
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bill bau just owned his doors but johnson the principal, apostle of the -- and the design established an ultimate arbiter called it on the spot. he anointed geary the greatest architect we have today and later declared the structure the greatest building of our time. that's how they begin this. here is what actually happened with phillip johnson and frank geary. >> without embarrassing, frank, tell me what you think of the building having been here before, just tell me. >รท too bad there are no words. i'm not thiin about words, about tears.
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. >> charlie: tears. >> uh-huh. i get the same feeling -- >> charlie: it overwhelms. >> you captured, you provoked in fact i think a really significant moment there. john was the aw apostle of the architecture establishment for a century. modernism and post modernism were advocated by him. he anointed geary in that moment with you present. it was recorded on tape is rather extraordinary and when i was sort of going through these responses from the architecture community and i happened upon
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that on the website, it's an overwhelming moment just to watch it right now. but this was i think really a moment that if are tr -- if it were 500 years ago, michaelangelo would have painted it and put it in a frame. that is a really significant very moving thing. and i think it really says what this piece says is that geary is awe noiptd. we have to talk about him now for the next hundred years and everything is really i think pivots off of him. >> charlie: what makes him great in your judgment? >> well, this is a really difficult question. i think he's original, probably would be the best summary of it. i've interviewed him a lot. we talked about what he did that really brought us bill bau and it goes back to this fish idea that he had. it's a very simple thing. and this myths about it now even that the fish idea for frank came from the carp that his
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grandmother bought to make the fish with. that exsites millions of jews in the world for great architects to talk about gifltefish. it was primal for him but he was trying to find a way to solve the major problem in architecture in our time which is an extremely important problem. it was that modernism had failed. and everyone had put all their stock in modernism. so post modernism was supposed to be the figur fig leaf that i describe in the article that fixed this problem but it didn't. i think it exacerbated it, i think it looks cheap post mud modernism. it was also a failure. flowp johnson is a -- flowp of p johnson is -- the at&t is the example of post modernism which is on top of a boxy skyscraper.
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hus he has denounced it on this program. most people would. what geary did is we were at a crossroads and he needed to solve this problem. and he did it by playing with form in a way that really no one had ever done before. and he decided not to use pastiche from the baroque area. he said to the fish had a basic anatomical form. he cut the head off, he cut the tail off. he had this sort of convex or compound curving structure, and that's what he began to play with. and then using computers, he began to form this into structures that are very script
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sculptural. there was tom the curator of the guggenheim that pushed him with this building, bill bau to make it into something that was absolutely jaw dropping on the level of a great pyramid or the pantheon. >> charlie: the second building schticked by this group of people that you was by renso. >> i was fascinated by this. geary got 28 for bill bau and renso got 10 so there's a big difference. the maneil is a great counter point. it's more than a decade before bill bau. it's gem cut minimalist small scale perfectionist but they're both mu sales. here are people that practice the trade. we thought it was really interesting that the second thing that really captivated the professional community was this
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very reserved, almost invisible piece of architecture which is the brilliance of the maneil. it disappears. >> charlie: the next one selected by these char architecs 1996. >> this is really interesting. no one's ever heard of this building practically speaking. it's really the architect's building. zumtor is a severe minimalist. i call him hippie nice because he uses very precision materials. this is a building of exquisite grace and beauty, very remote and hard to get to and only architects really have sane it or the very few people have gone to this bath. one sort of subtext of this survey is that post modernism, according to these people who we survade is dead and gone. i mean there was really nothing
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that anyone cited. 1980 was the height of post modernism. there are many ton to choose these pastiche buildings. minimalism and gearyism if you want to call it that really dominated. and others who are playing with forms oh an enormous debt to frank geary because he no they void computer technology for the form of these buildings. he was designing unbuildable structures without the age of space age computers. i mean this is his legacy as well. he's not only a formal master and i think you can say genius but the genius to get to the technology. and he's never even used a computer before, frank. but he i'm sure will. he had someone in his office figure this out and it made these wild formally very very far out things buildable. and this is really what led to it.
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>> charlie: it convinced him what he wanted to do was possible. >> because the first thing a client looks at is jesus how much is that going to cost. and frank showed them they could do it under budget. bill bau was built under budget. >> charlie: we'll go to the next one. this is the hsbc building in hong kong built in 18985 was it. >> well foster really is the great corporate architect of our age. these are structures of incredible complex beauty and really tensile, almost like a machine age thing. it's like a utopian vision of fritz long's metropolis. these complex incredible beautiful machines. but he i think is the one who took modernism and really brought it to a place that the public and the clients really love and accepted. he practices architecture on a very mass scale.
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not since skid morings which was the ultimate corporate firm which was global in the 50's and 60's that someone practice this modern aesthetic as proficiently as he did. i think he's a bespoke man. to get a foster building is like going to anderson and shepherd in london and get a suit if you want to put it in terms like that. >> charlie: the new gallery by sir jail -- james sterling. the media tech building by ito in japan, 2001 and seattle finally, seattle central library in 2000. >> the only post modern building on that list is sterling's building which he denied was post modern. that's one of the stories. you're looking for themes here among architects and there's a
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rejection of most modernism. they embrace frank geary and a real hunger to know what's next. and i think really i think if you want road maps, you would have to look if you want famous names, like mr. ito in japan who are really pushing the envelope. i was very surprised how much minimalism was on here. i think that might be an architect's preference. i'm not sure how much the general public awe doors minimalism to be honest with you. i think they adore gearyism because gearyism is fun, it excites the eye, it's pleasing which were the things that the bozarks possessed. what post modernism trying to do was recapture the magic of bozarks and frank figured out a way to do it catch people's eye and capture their imagination. >> charlie: the building in
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beijing. >> they are certainly formidable. the thing about that like bill bau this is a monumental structure that i think captures people's imagination. the thing that's in common with bill bau, it couldn't have been built without the computer. i mean architects will bend over backwards saying the computer makes no difference, it's the art, we could do it without the computer. but frankly you couldn't build these things without the computer. they wouldn't exist and if it's just on paper, i'm sorry it really doesn't count. it's something nice to frame. >> charlie: all of this, our thanks to you matt for doing this and bringing this to our attention. this is vanity fair magazine. 350 top architects picked the greatest buildings of the last 30 years. thank you. >> thank you. >> charlie: good to see you. >> thank you. captioning sponsored by rose communications
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captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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